Skip to main content
Poole Business
Winter 2019 Poole College Students Value Dance in Their Lives

Poole College Students Value Dance in Their Lives

At NC State, the arts are for everyone – it’s integral to the university’s interdisciplinary approach to education and research. For students, it means that regardless of their degree program, they can participate in the range of art programs available through Arts NC State – the university’s umbrella organization for its six visual and performing arts programs.

Six Visual and Performing Arts Programs

Arts NC State enriches the lives of students while serving the community, region and state.

Two Poole College business administration students – Adrian Haywood and MaryJo McCoy – are among those taking advantage of the opportunity to integrate dance into their lives at NC State, and were recognized for their artistic achievements in fall 2018.

Haywood, a sophomore, received the Creative Artist Award in the category of dance for his original duet titled “Vincent,” which centered on the concepts of unity, goals, and legacy. MaryJo McCoy, a senior, received the Performing Artist Award in the category of dance for her solo in the dance piece, “All That Ever Falls.”

“Adrian and MaryJo are incredible artists and embody the think and do attitude here at NC State,” said Tara Mullins, director of Dance at NC State. “They think outside of the box while being creative and empathetic. I am proud of the work they do and honored to have them in the companies.”

Haywood and McCoy have been dancing since their pre-teen years, and shared their perspective on the value they’ve gained from continuing in dance while at NC State.

Adrian Haywood: Free and Home

Haywood said he had his “first official dance class at age 10,” starting when his sister began dancing at their local studio. “I thought that it would help me get my weight under control, as I had to deal with childhood obesity,” he said.

My dance program experiences have done nothing but inspire me to do better for myself and others. Dance has motivated me to always work hard and to think and do better in order to achieve great heights.

“At my dance studio, I was drawn to all styles of dance except for ballet. In time, I became more connected to contemporary because I saw it as an outlet to express whatever issues I was going through at the time, and it gave me the opportunity to be more vulnerable,” Haywood said. “Contemporary also has a way of bringing people together; it teaches you so much about yourself and others.”

By the time he got to NC State, Haywood said he had “embraced dance as a part of my life; therefore, I would not be myself here without it. It makes me feel free and home.”

As a student, Haywood said he has learned to balance dance and academics by “prioritizing, time management and communication,” he said. “My dance program experiences have done nothing but inspire me to do better for myself and others. Dance has motivated me to always work hard and to think and do better in order to achieve great heights.”

One of his favorite dance experiences, Haywood said, was “performing my senior dance at my old dance studio and crying on stage with some of my favorite people as the audience screamed, clapped and showed love towards me.”

He aims to continue with dance after graduating and aspires to open his own dance studio.

MaryJo McCoy: Beyond What Words Can Express

“I come from a very artistic family … and was always surrounded by dance and performing arts throughout my childhood,” McCoy said. “My mom grew up dancing; my dad is a musician; one sister is in college pursuing theatre; my other sister is also a dancer. So naturally, I had a liking for dance and music since I was very young.” McCoy began taking ballet classes at about age five, and over the years has had training in ballet, modern, tap, and jazz dance.

“My favorite style is modern, which is what I do now as a member of the NC State Dance Company. What I love most about this style is the freedom and expressiveness of the movement. There is so much feeling and emotion that can be conveyed through modern dance. The movements can tell a story that goes beyond what words are able to express. When I am expressing myself through dance, I feel vulnerable, empowered and free.”

Being a dancer has allowed me to have a unique perspective, which gives me a creative approach to problem-solving.

McCoy said she hadn’t planned to continue dancing when she first came to NC State, but added, “I am very thankful that I did. I can’t imagine my experience here without the dance company.”

She got her start at NC State with a modern dance class that she took during Welcome Week in her freshman year. “That’s where I learned about the dance companies at NC State,” she said. “They told us about the upcoming auditions, so I decided to give it a try and I ended up getting into the company.

“Between technique classes and rehearsals, it is a big time commitment,” McCoy said, “but it provides me with a time where I can take a break from the stresses of my academic work. After a day of studying and going to class, it is nice to have a place to go where I can move around, let go, and immerse myself in something artistic.”

“Being a dancer has allowed me to have a unique perspective, which gives me a creative approach to problem-solving,” she said. And that has helped her to “think about a lot of things both logically and creatively.”

It also has taught her “valuable lessons in commitment and dedication,” McCoy said. “To be a dancer, you also have to be a bit of a perfectionist, and I definitely bring that same attitude to my academic work. I give everything my best shot, and put time and effort into both dancing and schoolwork. And since the dance company is such a major time commitment, it has allowed me to improve my time management skills – so I always have a schedule and know when everything has to be done.”

Her favorite dance experience in the company, she said, was performing in spring 2018 at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) conference in Richmond, Virginia. She and four other dancers performed a piece called “All that Ever Falls,” which was choreographed by their dance director, Tara Mullins, in an adjudication concert.

“It was very emotional,” McCoy said, “and we all felt a deep connection to the content of the piece.” It was her solo in that piece, performed during the 2018 NCSU Dance Company Concert, that earned her university recognition.

McCoy is currently in the process of getting her real estate license, and plans to become a broker selling real estate in the Raleigh area. “I know I will have a busy schedule, but I would love to keep dancing as much as I can. There are a lot of great opportunities to take master classes on campus and around the area, so I’m sure I will attend some of those,” she said.

Faculty Research Validates STEM + Arts Integration

The Poole College students’ remarks about their dance experiences reflect results of a proof-of-concept research study conducted several years ago by Mullins, Poole College Professor Fay Cobb Payton (currently on assignment with the National Science Foundation) and Ashley White, who was an NC State doctoral student in mathematics at the time of the study.

Their research found that participation in dance programs helps students – including those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines – develop skills, such as creativity and persistence, that benefited them in the classroom and beyond.

“We wanted to know what benefits students get from engaging in the arts when they’re majoring in other disciplines,” Payton stated in a Poole College news story about the research.

“Participants … reported that being involved in dance made them more creative in the way they approached problem-solving in the laboratory or classroom,” Payton said. “For example, the dancers said they were accustomed to working as part of a group, and felt this helped them incorporate multiple viewpoints when tackling academic challenges.”

They also reported that participating in the dance companies gave them a sense of community, a healthy outlet for expressing themselves, and access to a more diverse group of people than they found in their academic disciplines.

About the Awards Program

On October 25, 2018, Arts NC State hosted an event to honor the 2018 Creative, Performing and Visual Artist Award recipients. These awards celebrate NC State University students from across the university’s colleges who exhibit extraordinary creativity and mastery of their craft.

The Creative Artist Award recognizes students who have written, composed or choreographed an outstanding piece of original music, theatre or dance; the Performing Artist Awards are given to exceptional student performers. Arts NC State program directors and faculty select each year’s winners, who receive cash awards.

The Visual Artist Award honors an NC State student for outstanding work in the visual arts. The artist’s work is selected at the annual Student Art Sale, and the winner receives a cash award. Their piece is displayed prominently in Talley Student Union for the following year. The Creative, Performing and Visual Artist Awards are made possible by the NC State University Foundation, the Suzanne Kennedy-Stoskopf Endowment for Creativity in the Performing Arts, the Roxanne Hicklin Visual Artist Award Endowment, and Arts NC State.

Information for faculty interested in connecting their courses with the arts is available here.

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.